Singapore Ruby Brigade

By Zhenyi Tan

In 2007, I joined the Singapore Ruby Brigade, a Ruby user group in Singapore. I wasn’t one of the founding members, but when I joined, most of them were still active.

We used to have a small meetup every month, with around 20 people attending. Usually, someone would give a simple presentation, but we’d also discuss random Ruby stuff and other tech topics.

Rails was relatively new back then, so the mailing list was filled with people asking basic questions like, “What’s the best way to do XYZ in Rails?” or sharing tech-gossips like, “Hey, look what _why/Zed Shaw/37signals did.”

Most members of the group were young, and I was even younger, and stupider. I didn’t speak much English, but I managed to make a bunch of friends through the meetups.

(… like Chuyeow, Choonkeat, Arun, Herry, Jason, Sausheong, Cheeaun, Tzeyang, Andy, Winston… sorry if I missed your name.)

Then things changed. I didn’t understand it back then, but I understand it now. As time went on, work and life started to take precedence. The original members began to drift away from the meetups, and new faces started to appear.

This change was not necessarily a bad thing, but the group dynamics shifted. The new members, mostly startup founders or people from Rails shops, became the dominant voices of the group. The meetups turned into startup discussions, and the mailing list became a job board.

The SRB had grown up, and I hadn’t realized it.

Then, somehow, we had our own conference! It was called RedDotRubyConf. It was a big event that attracted famous Rubyists from all over the world. But I felt… disconnected. I remember looking at the attendees and speakers and thinking, “Oh, this is not our conference, this is their conference now.”

RedDotRubyConf continued for a few more years and then stopped. I don’t know why. I didn’t attend the last ones.

The last message in the mailing list was someone asking about the conference for the next year. Every now and then, I still see it when going through my email folders.

I miss the old days of the Singapore Ruby Brigade. But mostly, I just miss my friends.